The Rest Is Noise takes the reader inside the labyrinth of modern sound. It tells of maverick personalities who have resisted the cult of the classical past, struggled against the indifference of a wide public, and defied the will of dictators. Whether they have charmed audiences with the purest beauty or battered them with the purest noise, composers have always been exuberantly of the present, defying the stereotype of classical music as a dying art.
Ross, in this sweeping and dramatic narrative, takes us from Vienna before the First World War to Paris in the twenties, from Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia to downtown New York in the sixties and seventies. We follow the rise of mass culture and mass politics, of dramatic new technologies, of hot and cold wars, of experiments, revolutions, riots, and friendships forged and broken. In the tradition of Simon Schama's The Embarrassment of Riches and Louis Menand's The Metaphysical Club, the end result is not so much a history of twentieth-century music as a history of the twentieth century through its music.
In Part I, Leon Botstein and Michael P. Steinberg assess Schumann's efforts to place music at the center of German culture, in public and private sectors. Bernhard R. Appel offers a probing source study of one of Schumann's most personal works, the Album für die Jugend, Op. 68, while John Daverio considers the generic identity of Das Paradies und die Peri, and Jon W. Finson reexamines the first version of the Eichendorff Liederkreis. Gerd Nauhaus investigates Schumann's approach to the symphonic finale, and R. Larry Todd considers the intractable issue of quotations and allusions in Schumann's music. Part II presents letters and memoirs, including unpublished correspondence between Clara Schumann and Felix and Paul Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. In Part III, conflicting critical views of Schumann are juxtaposed. Some of these sources are translated into English for the first time.
Originally published in 1994.
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Mendelssohn Essays explores Mendelssohn’s precocity, his musical impressions of British culture, the role of the visual in his music, his compositional response to Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, and incomplete drafts from his musical estate of three instrumental works. In addition, a group of three essays focuses on the music of Mendelssohn’s sister Fanny Hensel, perhaps the most gifted woman composer of the century, and a significant, complex figure in the formation of the Mendelssohnian style.